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Old School Marketing

Does using photos of yourself in marketing help or hurt your bottom line?

Real estate is notorious for using agent photos on business cards, signs, bus benches, billboards, and so on, but does this actually improve sales?

If you aren’t already a member of the Raise the Bar in Real Estate Group on Facebook, you may want to join the 10,000+ real estate professionals who are currently members. Among the random rants about real estate syndication sites, you can actually find some pretty thought-provoking conversations about topical real estate stuff.

As a result of a conversation with an agent at my brokerage who wanted to put her face on a sign rider, I thought it would be interesting to survey the group and get their input on using personal photos and signage. The question was simply this: Do you believe that a For Sale Sign or Rider should have the agent’s photo on it?

Should an agent’s face be on a For Sale sign?

I’ll share my 2 cents on the matter: When I moved back to California after living the first decade or so of my adult life on the East Coast, I noticed that it was very common for California agents to have their profile photos on the business cards. Initially, I thought it was a bit hokey. I also noted that most of the agents looked nothing like their business card photos when you actually met them face-to-face (think: glamour shots).

Because of this, I originally decided that the photo on business card was not for me.

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Interestingly, in a 2013 comment on Facebook (Raise the Bar in Real Estate), Michael Maher (author of The 7 Levels of Communication) writes,

“As you grow your business and begin to network nationwide and global-wide, that one photo will allow them to align experience with memory, the ‘meeting you’ with ‘the information’ you really want them to have. Speaking around the world, I get a lot of cards. When placing a referral, writing a POWER Note, or reviewing who goes into our Referral Book, the photo helps me remember the encounter.”

To that end, I do agree with Maher and later I generated a business card with a photo for situations where I want to people to remember more than just my name.

The Finest Compliment

Truthfully, one of the finest compliments that I ever received was in 2010 when I met a fellow agent who had only seen me online and she told me that I looked just like my photo. I was thrilled. My photos online had achieved their goal—making me recognizable in the real world.

Agent Photos on Signs and Riders

Putting your mug on a For Sale Sign or Sign Rider in another matter altogether. Photos have no place on signs and riders (in my opinion). The sign and the rider are there to provide information on how to contact you. They are not about your sweet punim or your sexy logo. It’s about conveying information to sell a home in the most effective way possible. This also means that you should avoid using script and serif fonts. Additionally, you should make the phone number large enough for a quick passerby to see very clearly.

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Scientific Data to Support Branding Without Photos

So, when I wrote up that thread on Facebook about photos, I was thrilled to see that most of the 80+ agents who shared their thoughts agreed with me. But, more interesting was the somewhat scientific data.

Marc Davison, currently of 1000Watt Consulting, shares the following study of photos and advertising conducted prior to April 2013:

We did user surveys with 1871 people across 3 different age demographics asking several dozen questions about agent branding and marketing. For each question, there were 4 possible responses as follows:

– “Positively impacts my decision”
– “Marginally impacts my decision”
– “Has no Impact on my decision”
– “Negatively impacts my decision”

Without getting too detailed, when it came to agents photos on a business card, of the 1871 people surveyed, more than 95% of the respondents answered “Has No Impact all the way to Negatively impacts my decision.”

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This was across all 3 age groups.

As for the market testing, 2000 direct responses were sent to 2 test mailing lists, each list receiving 1000 each. Both cards were identical except for one element—1000 of the cards had a photo of a pretty attractive person that one would assume to be an agent, and the other 1000 did not have that photo.

Of the 1000 that had the agent’s photo, zero leads were generated. Of the 1000 that did not have the agent photo, around 15% of the recipients responded. 

Read: Better Response With No Photo

Ultimately, the call as to where you should plaster your personal photo is entirely yours to make: Should your photo be on your business card? Should it be plastered on your sign? Should it be present in your direct mail marketing materials?

Pick your poison. Generally, data and stats don’t lie. Data tells a story that helps us do our jobs better and be more successful each and every day.

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Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.


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